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A ‘façade’ versus ‘accident’: Closings arguments in foster parent murder trial

Fiery statements from both sides in the murder trial of Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum, accused of killing 2-year-old Laila Daniel.

MCDONOUGH, Ga. — The jury will soon be deciding the fate of Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum, the foster parents accused of killing 2-year-old Laila Daniel. 

The Rosenbaums were foster parents to Laila Daniel and her older sister Millie when Laila died on Nov. 17, 2015.

The couple insists Laila died accidentally while Jennifer was trying to save her from choking on some food.

Prosecutors said Laila's death was from ongoing, violent physical abuse.

Eddie Chase and Daysha Young delivered closing statements for the prosecution on Friday. Chase circled back to the theme of what they said is the Rosenbaum’s “façade,” which they spoke about at length during opening arguments.

“The danger of a façade,” began Chase. “[That’s] what they [the Rosenbaums] projected to those around them. What they projected to Millie and Laila. What they projected to everyone was a façade.”

“You’re going to be held accountable for each and everything you did to those children,” prosecutor Daysha Young said, indicating the defendants. “You will be held accountable for each injury you inflicted on these children. Forty-nine is too many. But that’s why we’re here.”

Chase went carefully through all 49 charges the Rosenbaums are facing in relation to Laila’s death and alleged abuse of Millie. He explained why Joseph Rosenbaum is facing charges, though he was not at home when Laila died.

“He (Joseph) knew what was going on. It was negligent of him to leave those children in Jennifer’s care,“ said Chase. “How much more of a failure to act could there be knowing your wife is abusing these kids and you leave them in her care regardless.“

Jurors paid close attention and took notes during the prosecutor’s closing arguments. They did not look away from the screen as Chase went through the photos of Laila’s injuries taken after her death. Laila’s biological mother left the courtroom as these photos were shown.

“She had massive bleeding internally. She had bruises all over her body,” prosecutor Chase told the jury. “She died a painful and slow death. And think about this … the last person she saw was the person who killed her.”

Joseph Rosenbaum, seated at the defense table with Jennifer, removed his glasses and wiped his eyes. He looked down and appeared to be crying. The Rosenbaums held hands and leaned in towards each other.

Defense claims horrible ‘accident’

The Rosenbaums defense attorney said this case was about a rush to judgment.

“Someone has to pay and that’s what this is about,” Corinne Mull told the jury. “Someone has to pay but in real life sometimes there are accidents. Sometimes you can’t place fault at the feet of a person or person. And that’s the case here. There was an accident.”

Laila died from internal bleeding as the result of injuries to her internal organs.

Laila’s injuries on the day she died:

  • Transected pancreas
  • Severe blood loss
  • Broken bones in arms and legs
  • Bruising on neck, face, abdomen, legs

Jennifer told authorities the injuries to Laila were caused when she tried to do CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver when she was choking.

MORE: ‘Nightstick fracture’ on Laila’s arm when she died

“This case comes down to what happened on November 17," Mull told the jury. "Dr. Sperry testified that it was a chaotic frenzied scene as Jennifer was trying to save this child.”

Mull was referencing defense witness and former GBI medical examiner Dr. Sperry who testified yesterday that Laila’s injuries could have been the result of improper life-saving measures.

“In the course of doing that she, unfortunately, caused damage to the internal organs by doing improper CPR. Improper Heimlich. And pounding on the back. And thrusting against the stomach.”

Mull then turned the jury’s attention towards the charges against Joseph Rosenbaum. He’s accused of knowing his wife abused the girls but did not stop it.

“Joseph Rosenbaum is charged in this case for one reason and one reason only,” Mull told the jury. “And that is to try to get him to turn on his wife. To say he knew she was abusing children.“

She went on to say Joseph worked two jobs when the girls lived with them.

“What bruises? Where bruises? All the bruises were done on the same day. Doctors said some were a little bit older but she couldn’t tell 5 minutes form 5 hours. They all occurred on the same day. They occurred after he left. He can’t be held to blame for his wife’s CPR and his wife’s attempts to save the child.”

Mull also said the pending lawsuits against the Dept. of Family and Child Services (DFCS) played a role in the Rosenbaums being charged for Laila’s death.

“Money was at stake. People were talking about owning DFCS. To let this go by without a show trial like this would have been negligent at best,” said Mull. “but we want to blame the Rosenbaums for which there’s absolutely no evidence. You’ve heard nothing about them to suggest anything other than they are the people this ‘façade’ is about. It’s not a façade. It’s who they are.”

When the defense finished its closing argument, the judge gave the courtroom a ten-minute break. At that point, Jennifer Rosenbaum laid her head on Joseph's shoulder and they sat together, like that, for several minutes.

The judge completed his formal reading of the charging documents in the case Friday afternoon; the jury will likely begin deliberation on Monday. 

Bookmark this page and subscribe to our YouTube channel for our daily trial stream. It typically starts each weekday around 9 a.m.

TRIAL COVERAGE:

DAY ONE: 'Liars, abusers and murderers:' Prosecutors say Rosenbaums lived a life of lies

DAY TWO: Facebook messages, phone recordings introduced as Laila Daniel's mom testifies in foster parents murder trial

DAY THREE: 'It hurt': 7-year-old details spankings, belt use at trial of 2-year-old sister's alleged murder by foster parents

DAY FOUR:  Mistakes made by DFCS workers are focus of Rosenbaum foster child murder trial

DAY FIVE: 'Night stick fracture': Doctor testifies about broken bones suffered by Laila Daniel

DAY SIX: Foster mom cries in court while listening to 911 call from day of Laila Daniel’s death

DAY SEVEN: ‘Millie told me Laila had been asleep’: ER nurse who treated girls on day Laila Daniel died

DAY EIGHT: Foster mother cries during police interview shortly after Laila Daniel’s death

DAY NINE: 'Significant blunt impact trauma:' Medical examiner says Laila Daniel did not die from choking

DAY TEN: First defense witness spars with prosecutors in foster parents murder trial

DAY ELEVEN: Joseph Rosenbaum’s sister testifies about happy family in foster parent murder trial

DAY TWELVE: Defense expert says toddler killed by foster mom’s ‘panicked attempt to save Laila’s life’

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